For latest on my series on the beautiful Cinque Terre I’m focussing on walking. The Cinque Terre and its surrounding National Park are popular with hikers. But what do you do if you are not really a great trail walker, let alone a hiker? Well, my enthusiasm for walking doesn’t extend beyond the treadmill at the gym and a lovely shopping trip, but I did walk in the Cinque Terre and I did love it. There are a number of walks in the Cinque Terre that are suitable for non-hikers or serious walkers, but as I write, many of them remain closed after rock slides and bad storms. Despite that, I managed to find three easy walks for non-hikers. None of these walks require special hiking gear – just sensible walking shoes and a basic level of fitness.
1. San Bernadino
San Bernadino is a tiny hamlet in the hills about 3km (2miles) from Vernazza. You can get up there by bus – if it is running, or if you can convince the driver to take you up there when it is not running that far (as I was able to do. I was his only passenger, and I asked politely. He said yes, so off we went. Pick up the bus from opposite the laudromat at the top of the town. If you have a single day train ticket for the Cinque Terre it is included in your ticket).
When you get to the town, head round the other side of religious sanctuary from the bus stop and admire the magnficient view out over the sea. To the left below you will see the tiny village of Corniglia.
That’s it for San Bernardino, so your walk then consists of walking back down the road you drove up. This walk is all downhill, so is easy, unless you have knee troubles. The road is also winding, so keep an ear out for approaching cars. You will pass vineyard terraces, wisteria covered stone ruins of old houses and a little stream. You will hear birds tweeting, see beautiful wildflowers and mosses, and apart from the odd car, not another soul.
You can, of course, walk this trip both ways – but it is literally all up hill to get there.
Corniglia is the only town of the Cinque Terre not directly on the coast. The train station is on the coast, so it’s an uphill trip to the village on the hill above. A bus runs from the station to the village, but if a walk is in order, you can either walk up the road – all uphill, but not as steep as up to San Bernadino (about 1.5km or a mile) or head up the 420 steps of staircase. The stairs are actually not nearly as daunting as they sound – gentle incline and plenty of seats and landings to stop and take a breather.
Of course, you can just catch the bus up, and walk back down. Either way, when you get to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a pretty and quaint village, and more of those stunning coastal views!
While not part of the Cinque Terre, the walk to Portofino from Santa Margherita Liguria is a great walk for non-hikers. While it is the longest of my three suggested walks (at about 6km or 4miles) if you follow the road it is completely flat and just so picturesque. You can, of course take the regular bus service, but you miss so many brilliant photo opportunities and gorgeous views, that I thoroughly recommend walking one way (and then catching the ferry back for even more gorgeous views). Stunning sea views, views of Santa Margherita, views of Portofino itself, and all those villas will reward the walker.
There is a longer walk you can take that heads off the main road inland through a more forested area, but for me, those sea views would justify any walk. Stunning.
(I will be writing separately about a day trip to Portofino in a later post).
General tips for walking the Cinque Terre
Regardless of which village you are visiting if you wander round the outskirts you can have a pleasant walk onto the vineyard terraces. Alternatively, head up to your village’s car park (they all have them) and follow the road out of town. See what you find and what beautiful views you can see.
And of course, always remember the sunscreen and hat, cover your shoulders, and get out those sensible walking shoes.
All photos author’s own